return with their sophomore effort, Grave New World
, brandishing much of the same elements seen in their debut with a few changes. The band’s debut, World Expiration
, garnered some positive reviews and got them some well deserved attention from the Finnish (as well as global) metal scene, but then they had to face the same question that every other band with a good debut album has to face: would they be able to better or at least equal it with their second?
Grave New World
sees the band using the same formula as in the debut: apocalyptic lyrics, dark and melodic guitar works complimented by synths and the use of both death growls and black metal screams, and though they used the same elements, the improvement and maturity here is quite evident.
The band only went through one line-up change as their previous drummer left during the recording of this album. Still, this can be seen as a positive omen as new drummer, Matti Auerkallio has shown that he is more than capable filling the boots of his predecessor. Whereas the drumming in the previous album was more laid back, this album sees a more aggressive take to it. An example of which, can be heard right at the beginning of the songs, Embrace the Scythe
and Serenity's Throne
. Though more aggressive, Soulfallen’s
music requires the drumming tempo to be brought down quite often because of the darker, more moodier moments in their songs with which Matti Auerkallio has complied quite impressively.
One aspect of the band’s music that one would find unique is that the synths on both this album and the debut were done by Finnish composer and producer Hannu Honkonen, who has also worked with Swallow the Sun
as well as multiple film scores. His work on the Soulfallen’s
debut was used to add to dark atmosphere created by the guitars and even composed one whole song for the band (Machiavellian Night Descends
). On this album he provides the same services but with a heavier dosage and although his work does have its moments, the heavier amount of synths can be annoying at times, like in the opening track A Hearse With No Name
where the synth produced orchestration is a quite overbearing. The song however is saved by some fantastic and melancholic lead guitar work. The main damage done by the heavier synths is that they at times drown the riffs completely, giving the impression that they’re being used as a back up for synths rather than the other way around.
What makes the synths covering up the riffs worse is that the guitar works have improved on this album. Tighter riffing and some excellent lead guitar works, help carry the album forward. They are still the main driving force of the music and the two guitarists have worked hard to put out some memorable tunes examples of which can be heard in the intro of the song This World Is Bleeding Flies
and in the chorus of the song Towers of Silence
. The solos are also amazingly melodic and are filled with despair, sadness and other such dark emotions and so perfectly fitting the themes used by the band. Though these moments produced by the guitarists are the highlights of the album, one is still left feeling that there could have been a few more here and there to help improve the overall sound of the album.
The first album saw the band bringing in a female singer for one song and tried to pull off something a bit Draconian
-ish and it did come off quite well. The band brought in another guest singer for the closing track of this record as well, but unlike the closer of the last album, the one here is quite poor. The song, We Are the Sand
, features clean vocals from Lars Eikind who also sings for Before the Dawn
and though his voice has that quality to sound very sad and mournful, his effort here just came of as laughable and completely ruins the song, making up for a very disappointing end to an otherwise solid album, which brings us to the aforementioned question… Is this better or at least equal to the debut? It does indeed come very close although this took a much greater time to sink in, unlike the first album. Great melodic instrumentation is blighted by some overused synths and minor songwriting scuffs, but the album still stands strong as a worthy listen.
This World Is Bleeding Flies
Towers of Silence
A Hearse With No Name